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Robbery: a Serious Criminal Offense Worth Fighting in Court

Dealing with a robbery charge is not a walk in the park emotionally or legally. It is a serious offense that can naturally leave you feeling unsettled about your future and confused about how to defend yourself in the court system.

Fortunately, just because you face a robbery charge in California does not mean you are automatically guilty of this crime. As with any other criminal offense, the law presumes your innocence until and unless a prosecutor can prove your guilt in a court of law.

What exactly is robbery?

Robbery involves taking another individual's money or property by using physical force or causing fear in the victim. If a gun or other deadly weapon is used during the event, the offense is aggravated or armed robbery. Robbery is different from a burglary in that robbery usually requires a victim to be present and threatened with harm.

Two types of robbery

Two categories of robbery exist under Penal Code 211 in California: first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. The first-degree robbery takes place at an ATM or inside a building, such as a bank. Meanwhile, second-degree robbery includes all other types of robberies. If a court convicts you of first-degree robbery, a judge or jury may incarcerate you for three, four or six years, whereas a second-degree robbery conviction could result in two, three or five years behind prison bars.

Your record

Because robbery in the state of California is a violent felony, if a court convicts you of this crime, it will count as a strike against you on your criminal record, based on the state's three-strikes law. If your record already features a felony, or if you end up getting a second one, your sentence may be double that which the law requires. Meanwhile, a third felony conviction will lead to a required prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Your legal rights

If you are facing a robbery charge, you have the option of going to trial to fight the charge or seeking to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution. At trial, prosecutors must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can occur. However, if their evidence appears to be strong, a plea agreement offers the benefit of a potentially lighter charge and/or a more lenient sentence than what would result from a guilty finding at trial.